Slab-shaped buildings—long and narrow but tall enough to be vast—are exciting today's architects as pencil-point skyscrapers did their predecessors. No man has done more than Wallace Harrison to make the idea a reality: he cloaked it with stone in creating Rockefeller Center and with glass in the U.N. Secretariat.

Huge projects like these require the collaboration of many minds. Harrison's partner, Max Abramovitz, and an office force of some 250 were not enough to get U.N.-in-Manhattan off the ground. To start with, Harrison spent four months picking the brains of an advisory panel of ten brilliant architects from ten nations. The following...

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